The Essential Joseph Smith
Foreword by Marvin S. Hill
“Respected Uncle Silas It Is with Feelings of Deep Interest,” Joseph Smith to Silas Smith,
26 September 1833 (from copy in Lucy Mack Smith, “Preliminary History,” archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah)
[p.37]Respected Uncle Silas
It is with feelings of deep interest for the wellfare of mankind which fills my mind on the reflection that all were formed by the hand of him who will call the same to give an impartial account of all their works on that great day to which you and myself in common with them are bound, that I take up my pen and seat myself in an attitude to address a few though imperfect lines to you for your perusal.
I have no doubt but that you will agree with me that men will be held accountable for the things which they have and not for the things they have not or that all the light and intelligence communicated to them from their benifficen[t] creator whether it is much or little by the same they in justice will be judged, and that they are required to yield obedience and improve upon that and that only which is given for man is not to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
Seeing that the Lord has never given the world to understand by anything heretofore revealed that he had ceased forever to speak to his creatures when saught unto in a proper manner why should it be thought a thing incredible that he should be pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation. Perhaps you may be surprized at this assertion that I should say for the salvation of his creatures in these last days since we have already in our possesion a vast volume of his word which he has previously given—But you will admit that the word spoken to Noah was not sufficent for Abraham or it was not required of Abraham to leave the land of his nativity and seek an Inheritance in a strange Country upon the word spoken to Noah but for himself he [p.38]obtained promises at the hand of the Lord and walked in that perfection that he was called the friend of God Isaac the promised seed was not required to rest his hope upon the promises made to his father Abraham but was priviledged with the assurance of his approbation in the sight of Heaven by the direct voice of the Lord to him. If one man can live upon the revelations given to another might not I with propriety ask why the necessity then of the Lord speaking to Isaac as he did as is recorded in the 26 chapter of Genesis for the Lord there repeats or rather promises again to perform the oath which he had previously sworn unto Abraham and why this repet[it]ion to Isaac. Why was not the first promise as sure for Isaac as it was for Abraham. Was not Isaac Abraham’s son And could he not place implicit confidence in the word of his father as being a man of God.
Perhaps you may say that he was a very peculiar man and different from men in these last days consequently the Lord favored him with blessings peculiar and different as he was different from men in this age[.] I admit that he was a peculiar man and was not only peculiarly blessed but greatly blessed. But all the peculiarity that I can discover in the man or all the difference between him and men in this age is that he was more holy and more perfect before God and came to him with a purer heart and more faith than men in this day.
The same might be said on the subject of jacobs history. Why was it that the Lord spake to him concerning the same promise after he had made it once to Abraham and renewed it to Isaac why could not Jacob rest contented upon the word spoken to his fathers. When the time of the promise drew nigh for the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt why was it necessary that the Lord should begin to speak to them. The promise or word to Abraham was that his seed should serve in bondage and be afflicted four hundred years and after that they should come out with great substance. Why did they not rely upon this promise and when they had remained in Egypt in bondage four hundred [years] come out without waiting for further revelation but act entirely upon the promise given to Abraham that they should come out.
Paul said to his Hebrew brethren that God b[e]ing more abundantly willing to show unto the heirs of his promises the immutability of his council [“]confirmed it by an oath.” He also exhorts them who throug[h] faith and patience inherit the promises.
“Notwithstanding we (said Paul) have fled for refuge to lay hold [p.39]of the hope set before us which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast and which entereth into that within the vail.” Yet he was careful to press upon them the necessity of continuing on untill they as well as those who inherited the promises might have the assurance of their salvation confirmed to them by an oath from the mouth of him who could not lie[.] for that seemed to be the example anciently and Paul holds it out to his brethren as an object attainable in his day[,] and why not I admit that by reading the scriptures of truth saints in the days of Paul could learn beyond the power of contradiction that Abraham Isaac and jacob had the promise of eternal life confirmed to them by an oath of the Lord[;] but that promise or oath was no assurance to them of their salvation[,] but they could by walking in the footsteps and continuing in the faith of their fathers obtain for themselves an oath for confirmation that they were meet to be partake[r]s of the inheritance with the saints in light.
If the saints in the days of the Apostles were priviledged to take the saints for example and lay hold of the same promises and attain to the same exhalted priviledges of knowing that their names were writen in the Lambs book of life[,] and that they were sealed there as a perpetual memorial before the face of the most high[,] will not the same faithfulness[,] the same purity of heart[,] and the same faith bring the same assurance of eternal life and that in the same manner to the children of men now in this age of the world.
I have no doubt but that the holy prophets and apostles and saints in ancient days were saved in the Kingdom of God. Neither do I doubt but that they held converse and communion with them while in the flesh as Paul said to the corinthian brethren that the Lord jesus showed himself to above 500 saints at one time after his resure[c]tion. job said that he knew that his Redeemer lived and that he should see him in the flesh in the latter days. I may believe that Enoch walked with God[.] I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels. I may believe that Isaac obtained a renewal of the covenant made to Abraham by the direct voice of the Lord. I may believe that jacob conversed with holy angels and heard the word of his Maker[,] that he wrestled with the angel until he prevailed and obtained a blessing[.] I may believe that Elijah was taken to Heaven in a chariot of fire with fiery horses[.] I may believe that the saints saw the Lord and conversed with him face to face after his resurection[.] I may believe that the Hebrew Church came to Mount Zion and unto the [p.40]city of the living God the Heave[n]ly Jerusalem and to an inumerable company of angels. I may believe that they looked into Eternity and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; but will all this purchase an assurance for me, or waft me to the regions of Eternal day with my garments spotless, pure, and white? Or, must I not rather obtain for myself, by my own faith and dilligence, in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself[.] And have I not an equal priviledge with the ancient saints? and will not the Lord hear my prayers, and listen to my cries, as soon [as] he ever did to their’s if I come to him in the manner they did or is he a respecter of persons?
I must now close this subject for the want of time; and I may say with propriety at the begining: we would be pleased to see you in Kirtland and more pleased to have you embrace the New Covenant. I remain.